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Feb 14 - Cape Town to Halley

Date: Wednesday 12th February 2008

Position @ 0600 Local (GMT): 75° 28.1 South, 026° 40.5 West. Creek 4 Halley
Next destination: Cape Town
ETD: 9th of March.
Distance to go: 3141nm
Distance Travelled since Immingham this Antarctic Season. : 18567 nmiles.
Current weather: Sunny and cold
Sea State: Calm
Wind : 15 kts Easterly
Barometric pressure: 979 mb
Air temperature: -10.9°C
Sea temperature. -2.5°C

 

Our position
Our position

Up to date position information is available courtesy of ‘sailwx/info’ taken from our Metrological Observations..


Cape Town to Halley

Bye bye Table Mountain
Bye bye Table Mountain

Greetings from down south once again.

Our departure from Cape Town was delayed by a few days as a spare coupling for the one of the generators had to be flown from Germany. The part duly arrived on Friday 25th Jan at about midday and the engineers made short shrift of fitting it. The Chief Engineer asked for the generator to be run in for about 12 hours to test the new part.

So what are a bunch of sailors supposed to do on a Friday evening whilst tied up alongside in the V&A Waterfront a few hundred metres from the buzzing nightlife? All those not on duty duly marched ashore for a last taste of Cape Town hospitality. A good time was had by all..

Leaving the harbour
Leaving the harbour

By midday Saturday the Chief Engineer declared the generator fit for service. The pilot was summoned and by 1pm we slipped our moorings and were on our way in glorious sunny weather with hardly a ripple in the water.

Pilot boat away
Pilot boat away

Table Mountain was looking as majestic as ever as we turned the corner and headed Southwards.

We even received a phone call from Mike Jones our 2nd Engineer who had just signed off. He said that he was relaxing in the pool at his hotel and sipping a beer when our ship hove into view. He thought he'd just drop us a line to tell us how marvellous it was to see his ship sail by without him. What a chap! We wish him well.

As we moved away from the protection of the mountains the wind picked up and was soon blowing a howling gale. The Cape Doctor as it is known, the incessant southeaster that blows in the summer months caught gave us a pounding to remember. We were suddenly definitely back at sea. The sea-sick pills and patches were soon being handed out.

The next couple of days were pretty much the same as the seas battered us about a bit seemingly urging us to head north. However our mission as ever was southawrds. On Friday morning the weather finally calmed down as we approached our nearest pass to Bouvet Island. We were even treated to some blue skies and bit of sunshine which was most welcome.

Archway berg
Archway berg

The Captain has decided to take us due south from when we reach 60 South. It would appear from satellite imagery as if the shore lead has opened up and we will attempt to use it to get us all the way around to Halley. Needless to say every Satellite picture possible is being thoroughly examined and monitored. If we do do this our course will take us directly past the offload points for Sanae and Nuemayer. The scenic route beckons methinks.

While in Radio contact with the SA Agulhas on Friday morning they reported having just observed a huge chunk of the ice-shelf collapse. one their Challenger cats was busy coming down the ice ramp when this happened. Luckily for them the Shelf gave way ahead of the vehicle which then beat a hasty retreat. No one was harmed in the incident but it was a close call. They are reassessing their back load plan and may revert to doing it at Neumayer where the shelf is a lot lower.

Stereo iceberg
Stereo iceberg

News from Neumayer is that the Naja Arktika is just finishing her offload after being severely delayed due to heavy ice earlier on in the season. Speculation on board is that they have pretty much lost their entire season for the base build. Unfortunate for them but as always Antarctica has a way of messing with the well laid plans of mere mortals.

Breaking loose pack ice
Breaking loose pack ice

Halley has informed us that the building is progressing really well and everything is on schedule so far. The first unit is well on the way to being completed.

We finally approached the Ice-shelf and then headed westwards a few miles off it. When we passed off Neumayer we had a brief exchange over the VHF radio with the SA Agulhas and headed on westwards.

Ice berg
Ice berg

The next few days saw us moving swiftly along the coast encountering only the occasional sticky patches of pack-ice. It would seem as if we had chosen the correct route as the going was relatively easy. As weapproached Stancombe-Wills glacial snout one of the Twin Otter aircraft from Halley came out to greet us and told us of a clear route ahead to Halley.

Ice floes
Ice floes

Flying berg - mirage
Flying berg - mirage

Once we rounded the corner At Stancomb-Wills we headed south again and cruised along the edge of some very broken and tumbled fast-ice clinging to the shelf. The edge of this fast ice at one point looked as if it had been cut by a knife it was so straight. A sure sign of an Ice Berg preceding us down this alley.

Raft ice
Raft ice

Satellite view of Kapp Norvegia - Stancomb-wills - Halley on the  Brunt Ice Shelf
Satellite view of Kapp Norvegia - Stancomb-wills - Halley on the Brunt Ice Shelf

By early morning on Friday the 8th Feb we arrived off Creek 4 at Halley. On first inspection it looked as if the fast-ice was still pretty much intact which was a good sign and bode well for our cargo work.

Ice-flowers
Ice-flowers

The cargo work commenced pretty much immediately after the ship made fast and continues. Work has gone well and should be completed within a few days.

Backloading
Backloading

The sun is now just dipping below the horizon at midnight and the temps are starting to drop too minus 20 C on ocassions. A sure sign of the impending changing of the seasons and pre-cursor to the end of our time down here We still have month go however.

Ice-shelf icicles
Ice-shelf icicles

Setting sun
Setting sun

Ice-shelf
Ice-shelf

A few of the lads were lucky enough to be taken on a fight in the Twin Otter aircraft for an aerial view of the Halley neighbourhood and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Twin otter and crew
Twin otter and crew

RRS Ernest Shackleton from the air
RRS Ernest Shackleton from the air

We have had some glorious sunny days recently and have made the most of these conditions to finish the back loading.

 Bright sun
Bright sun

News from Halley is that the new Halley 6 base is going very well. We delivered some huge tents that we will put over the exposed space frames This so that they will not have to be dug out next year when we the job begins again.

Space frame in position
Space frame in position

First pod taking shape
First pod taking shape

Ice patterns
Ice patterns

And so we leave you once again. The summer season down here is slowly drawing to close.
Everyone's thoughts are of its end and going home. However there are still a few weeks to go and much work to do.

A Sailors lament....

I'm leavin' my fam'ly
Leavin' all my friends
My body's at home
But my heart's in the wind
Where the clouds are like headlines
On a new front page sky
My tears are salt water
And the moon's full and high

And I know Martin Eden's
Gonna be proud of me
And many before me
Who've been called by the sea
To be up in the crow's nest
Singin' my say
Shiver me Timbers
'Cause I'm a-sailin' away

And the fog's liftin'
And the sand's shiftin'
I'm driftin' on out
Ol' Captain Ahab
He ain't got nothin' on me, now.
So swallow me, don't follow me
I'm trav'lin' alone
Blue water's my daughter
'n I'm gonna skip like a stone

So please call my missus
Gotta tell her not to cry
'Cause my goodbye is written
By the moon in the sky
Hey and nobody knows me
I can't fathom my stayin'
Shiver me timbers
'Cause I'm a-sailin' away

Thanks and Apologies to T. Waits.

On that melancholy note we bid you adieu.


Forthcoming Events: Completion of the Discharge and back load. and awaiting the Season's end..

Antarctic Diary No.12 should be out at the end of Febraury.


Contributors this issue: Photo's by Pat O'Hara & Luke Rust

Goodbye
Patrick O'Hara
Radio Officer.

Pat
Pat